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Is Silence Golden? Patents versus Secrecy at the Firm Level

  • Hussinger, Katrin

In the 1990s, patenting schemes changed in many respects: upcoming new technologies accelerated the shift from price competition towards competition based on technical inventions, a worldwide surge in patenting took place, and the ‘patent thicket’ arose as a consequence of strategic patenting. This study analyzes the importance of patenting versus secrecy as an effective alternative to protect intellectual property in the inventions’ market phase. The sales figure with new products is introduced as a new measure for the importance of tools to protect IP among product innovating firms. Focusing on German manufacturing in 2000, it turns out that patents are important to protect intellectual property in the market, whereas secrecy seems to be rather important for inventions that are not commercialized yet.

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Paper provided by Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich in its series Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems with number 37.

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Date of creation: Mar 2005
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Handle: RePEc:trf:wpaper:37
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  1. Horstmann, Ignatius & MacDonald, Glenn M & Slivinski, Alan, 1985. "Patents as Information Transfer Mechanisms: To Patent or (Maybe) Not to Patent," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 93(5), pages 837-58, October.
  2. Petr Hanel, 2008. "The Use Of Intellectual Property Rights And Innovation By Manufacturing Firms In Canada," Economics of Innovation and New Technology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 17(4), pages 285-309.
  3. Arundel, Anthony, 2001. "The relative effectiveness of patents and secrecy for appropriation," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 30(4), pages 611-624, April.
  4. Denicolo, Vincenzo, 1996. "Patent Races and Optimal Patent Breadth and Length," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 44(3), pages 249-65, September.
  5. Wesley M. Cohen & Richard R. Nelson & John P. Walsh, 2000. "Protecting Their Intellectual Assets: Appropriability Conditions and Why U.S. Manufacturing Firms Patent (or Not)," NBER Working Papers 7552, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Langinier, Corinne & Moschini, GianCarlo, 2002. "Economics of Patents: An Overview, The," Staff General Research Papers 2061, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  7. Dirk Czarnitzki, 2005. "The Extent and Evolution of Productivity Deficiency in Eastern Germany," Journal of Productivity Analysis, Springer, vol. 24(2), pages 211-231, October.
  8. Suzanne Scotchmer, 1991. "Standing on the Shoulders of Giants: Cumulative Research and the Patent Law," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 5(1), pages 29-41, Winter.
  9. Carl Shapiro, 2003. "Navigating the Patent Thicket: Cross Licenses, Patent Pools, and Standard-Setting," Law and Economics 0303005, EconWPA.
  10. Zvi Griliches & Jacques Mairesse, 1981. "Productivity and R and D at the Firm Level," NBER Working Papers 0826, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. James J. Anton & Dennis A. Yao, 2004. "Little Patents and Big Secrets: Managing Intellectual Property," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 35(1), pages 1-22, Spring.
  12. Tandon, Pankaj, 1982. "Optimal Patents with Compulsory Licensing," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(3), pages 470-86, June.
  13. Edwin Mansfield, 1986. "Patents and Innovation: An Empirical Study," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 32(2), pages 173-181, February.
  14. Kortum, Samuel & Lerner, Josh, 1999. "What is behind the recent surge in patenting?1," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 1-22, January.
  15. David D. Friedman & William M. Landes & Richard A. Posner, 1991. "Some Economics of Trade Secret Law," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 5(1), pages 61-72, Winter.
  16. Richard C. Levin & Alvin K. Klevorick & Richard R. Nelson & Sidney G. Winter, 1987. "Appropriating the Returns from Industrial Research and Development," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 18(3), pages 783-832.
  17. Richard C. Levin & Alvin K. Klevorick & Richard R. Nelson & Sidney G. Winter, 1988. "Appropriating the Returns from Industrial R&D," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 862, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
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